Reddit certainly attracts a huge user base for a social network not widely considered to be mainstream. As of Oct. 2018, it is the fifth most popular website in the United States, with a total worldwide monthly user base of more than 330 million people. Hence, it’s not hard to see why Reddit is known as “The Front Page of the Internet.”
But Reddit remains overlooked by many social marketing teams, perhaps because it has a reputation of not being as brand-friendly as other platforms like Facebook and Twitter. This has begun to shift in the last year—Reddit ads have become more popular, and in Dec. 2017 the platform announced a partnership with Sprinklr that will allow brands to publish through the third-party platform and glean social insights all in one place.
Putting aside the marketing potential of Reddit, it has also proven to be a great resource for social listening, though under the radar. In fact, the quality of conversation on Reddit, and the aversion to promotional content, makes it a fantastic tool for social marketers to know what’s happening both with your brand and the industry at large. Trends often start on Reddit before going viral on Facebook or Twitter, so investing in monitoring there can help you stay ahead of the curve.
Find Your Niche
One of the benefits of Reddit over other social channels is subreddits—a forum within the site that is solely focused on a specific topic. While the front page of Reddit is an amalgam of the top rated posts from across the site, there are over one million subreddits that anyone can follow across extremely diverse topics.
Subreddits are typically home to subject-matter experts and open, in-depth discussions involving trends, brands and products within a specific industry. Having access to these specific conversations about what’s going on in your field, along with what real consumers are saying about your brand (and your competitors) can be a huge asset for any company. This is especially true for companies with a very particular target audience who may typically struggle to find insights. You may even follow subreddits that don’t relate to your particular industry, but contain popular trends that you can incorporate into your social campaigns nonetheless.
It’s also worth noting that social media and communications professionals can find their own subreddits to keep abreast of what’s going on in their own industries. Subreddits like r/socialmedia, r/PRTwitter and r/marketing are good places to start.
Reddit is home to real, highly-engaged consumers
Data from Alexa shows that users spend more time on Reddit daily than on the other top platforms, and it has a larger base of active users than Twitter. Free of the character limits on Twitter or the jumbled timelines of Facebook and Instagram, Reddit allows for high levels of longer-form, deeper conversations with like-minded people that you’re unlikely to find on other channels. This is a gold-mine for social marketers who invest time into the platform (there are also social listening tools like Awario and Mention that allow Reddit to be incorporated as a channel) to glean insights that can inform future campaigns.
Even with the presence of ads on Reddit, moderation of subreddits are led by community members, allowing for a quieter experience than most other platforms. There is a certain etiquette expected on Reddit—like the rule of no more than 10% of posts can be self-promotional—and those who don’t abide are “downvoted”, meaning their posts are hidden in the feed and their “karma” (activity recorder) points go down. This allows for significantly fewer fake profiles, bots and spammers cluttering conversations. It also means that the insights you get are directly from the mouths—or fingers, rather—of real consumers.
Some words of caution
While brands can, and should, have a presence on Reddit, you'll want to be wary of engaging with users in the same ways you would on other channels. There is a reason that it’s taken so long for brands to take notice of the platform’s usefulness—Redditors typically are against marketing speech and promotional posts. It’s very easy to just be a spectator in your applicable subreddits, but you may be missing out on some valuable information that you’re more likely to get if you ask users directly for their feedback. Just make sure you’re not openly marketing a product like you might on Facebook. A poll of users on a subreddit about their favorite gym shoes could be very useful for an athletic company, for instance, provided that company was not specifically marketing its own products.
Also make sure you’re following all rules, so as not to alienate users and lower your Karma score. Each subreddit has its own rules that can get a user banned if they are not followed, and even posting the same post in multiple subreddits can be a cause for uproar.
Though the rules of Reddit may not be as straightforward of some other platforms, it remains a worthwhile investment of your resources to learn the nuances of this niche platform, as it can provide social marketers with the type of insights that aren’t available anywhere else online.